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Bill Potts

In her most revealing, in-depth interview to date, Pearl Mackie tells DWM how it feels when the universe reels. “Open your eyes,” she says, “look into the lights, and don’t blink.”


Meet Pearl Mackie. “Every day, I have about a million different emotions,” she says of her fast-approaching, eagerly awaited Doctor Who début.

“I’m excited. I’m nervous.

I’m full of anticipation, really. Probably the same as most of the fans. Also, we’re still filming at the moment – we’re wrapping up the series – so I’m trying to fit in all those emotions between, like, learning my lines. Which is fun. And a bit mad.”

Pearl uses that word a lot. Mad. Also insane. Little wonder. This new series, in which she stars alongside Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi and Nardole actor Matt Lucas, is set to be the show’s most bonkers run yet. DWM has caught up with the 29-year-old on one of her rare days off from shooting; a brief respite from Tenth Planet-style Cybermen, the return of Missy, blood, sweat, plenty of tears, and some shocking twists, all making for an explosive, idiosyncratic series finale – a razor-sharp two-parter scripted by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. But those episodes won’t air till June and July. First things first… Meet Bill Potts, the Doctor’s newest travelling companion. In DWM 500, Steven explained,

“The note we’re giving the writers is: Bill is someone who asks the questions that nobody has asked for 53 years. ‘If you have a TARDIS that’s bigger on the inside, why don’t you just –?’ Bill is someone who never expected to be travelling around with space royalty, fighting monsters, but has the irreverence and cheek to ask all the questions you’re not supposed to ask on Doctor Who. ‘How different is it having two hearts? Is one a back-up? Do you have very, very high blood pressure?’”

“That’s a really good description of her,” says Pearl. “Bill is very inquisitive, but she’s also very, very real and very human, so she does ask those kinds of questions – about him having two hearts, and where the toilet is in the TARDIS, and she says the TARDIS looks like a kitchen because it’s all shiny. She’s not, like, a sci-fi veteran. She likes sci-fi, but in her head it’s very ‘fi’; it’s completely fictional, and then she’s thrown into this amazing world where actually it’s all real and everything – anything – is possible. For someone who’s human and 100% of this Earth, it’s completely mind-blowing.”

When Bill is introduced in Episode 1, The Pilot (previously titled A Star in Her Eye) [see preview, page 14], on BBC One on 15 April, she will delight long-time fans and newbies alike, Pearl reckons. “It’s great for new viewers, because they get to experience everything Bill experiences for the first time, as she experiences it, but it’s also great for old-school fans – old vets of Doctor Who fandom – who get the joy of seeing someone new enter the TARDIS and deliver the ‘It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside’ line – ‘Yay, she said it! Finally!’ – but then she’ll hit back with, ‘It looks like a kitchen. A really posh kitchen. Also, can I use the toilet?

I need the toilet.’ Or she’ll challenge things that haven’t ever been challenged before, stuff that’s always kind of taken as read – and the Doctor is challenged by that. Oh God, I can’t wait for people to meet Bill. I’m really, really excited. I just hope everyone likes her as much as I do. I think she’s really cool. She brings a really fresh, new energy to the show.” Bill’s destiny may be in the stars, but her Earthbound alter ego is a star on the rise.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

New series preview issue! Contents include: an exclusive interview with Pearl Mackie who plays new companion Bill Potts; previews of the first three episodes of the 2017 season – The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice, with exclusive interviews with writers Steven Moffat, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sarah Dollard; Doctor Who's producers Nikki Wilson and Peter Bennett reveal the behind-the-scenes secrets of the making of the show; 1983's Terminus is put under the spotlight in The Fact of Fiction; The Time Team watch 2011's The Curse of the Black Spot; showrunner Steven Moffat introducers the writers of the 2017 series in his latest column; brand new comic strip action as the Doctor and Jess have a showdown with the Master in Doorway to Hell; plus previews, reviews, official news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!